Bloodborne HIV: Don't Get Stuck!

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Tag Archives: criminalization

Control Element More Evident than Prevention in Uganda’s HIV Bill

Another article on Uganda’s idiotic HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill says the country is going have a bill that compels men to test for HIV along with their partners when their partners are pregnant. I can see a lot of fatherhood denials resulting from this. But this bill, which claims to be punishing men (who all deserve to be punished, right?), will be a lot more threatening to women.

HIV prevalence is higher among women (8.3%) than men (6.1%) and women are already under a lot of pressure to be tested for HIV when pregnant. This means that a lot more women are aware of their status and it is unlikely they will be able to claim not to know their status if they have ever been pregnant, especially if they live in an urban area (urban prevalence 8.7%, rural 7%) and can afford some healthcare (richest quintile prevalence 8.2%, poorest quintile 6.3%).

Ugandan politicians are probably not aware of the terrible conditions in health facilities in their country as they and their families always seem to go abroad when they need healthcare. But they should be aware that health facilities there, especially reproductive health facilities, may be dangerous places. A very expensive survey is carried out every now and again called the Service Provision Assessment and they should familiarize themselves with it. Almost all Ugandan women attend an antenatal facility at least once, and more than half give birth in a health facility and receive the assistance of a skilled health professional.

Given such conditions in healthcare facilities, maybe Ugandan politicians should make sure HIV and other diseases are not being transmitted through healthcare and other skin-piercing procedures before passing a bill that seems to assume that transmission is all a result of unsafe sex. They don’t seem to have any idea of the possible consequences of such a bill.

[There have been quite a number of HIV infections in Uganda that have been unexplained by sexual behavior and are probably healthcare related. To read more, visit our Cases and Investigations page for Uganda.]

Uganda Taking UNAIDS’s Propaganda to its Illogical Conclusion

Since HIV first became a media football, various commentators have obsessed about the idea that there are lots of people who deliberately transmit HIV. There were loads of stories about it in the early days, and they still appear every now and again. One of the countries to take this idea most seriously is Uganda, who have created a law that purports to be aimed at people who ‘deliberately’ transmit HIV.

The fact that there are probably very few such people, if any, won’t worry those supporting the passing of the bill. Some of them have got a lot of mileage out of victim blaming, while making no effort whatsoever to reduce HIV transmission, or to reduce any other kind of human suffering.

This bill may have the unintended effect of criminalizing the work of people who work with skin piercing instruments, such as health care workers, traditional practitioners and cosmetic workers, who all may break skin and draw blood every working day, whether deliberately or by accident, and who may inadvertently infect a client with hepatitis, HIV or some other blood born pathogen.

Uganda has failed to establish how HIV is still being transmitted at a rate high enough to keep prevalence at about the same level for over 10 years. Now they are blaming anyone they can think of rather than reconsidering the epidemic in their country. Perhaps receiving global attention for speaking openly about the virus in the early days counted as doing something then, but now, after nearly three decades of continuing high rates of transmission, being open is not enough.

It’s time to investigate infections, trace partners and, more importantly, to investigate non-sexual risks, such as those people face when visiting health facilities, traditional and cosmetic practitioners. Being open about HIV means being open about how the virus is spread, rather than continuing to rant on about individual sexual behavior. That cash cow is drying up, anyhow, so now is a good time for this weaning process to begin.

[For more about non-sexual HIV risks, visit our Healthcare Risks and Cosmetic Risks for HIV]